New Zealand businesses deeply unsettled by labour law reform now have another concern, with lightning strikes deemed an appropriate negotiating tactic, National’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesman Scott Simpson says.

“Business was ignored in the Government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill, which curbs workplace flexibility and undermines a key pillar of New Zealand’s economic growth. In the worst year of strikes in 30, there’s now the prospect of strikes with no warning.

“This week’s Employment Court decision not to rule lightning strikes by Ministry of Justice court staff illegal, even though only 30 minutes notice was given, will only encourage more industrial action and more disruptive tactics.

“A Justice Ministry official has warned of health and safety risks if courts had suddenly to be cleared, especially cases involving angry criminal defendants or rival gang members. Disruptions could also affect time-sensitive cases in the Family Court.

“This Government has only itself to blame for creating high expectations that have emboldened unions to take strike action of the sort we haven’t seen for decades.

“National opposes the Government’s employment reforms. Businesses large and small will bear the brunt if it passes into law as is, which will see pay rises decided elsewhere and union officials able to barge into workplaces unannounced.

“National supports higher wages but the way to increase them is by building a strong economy allowing businesses to grow, create jobs and pay more.”

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